Just Because He Breathed – the animation.

Rob and Linda Robertson have an unbelievable story that has moved countless people. Tams and I first heard about their story a few months ago through social media and the article Linda had written for Huffington Post that went viral, entitled “Just Because He Breathes: Learning to Truly Love Our Gay Son.”

We didn’t realize they lived a couple hours south of us, and that we had a mutual friend as well. Their story moved us so much, we connected with them via Facebook, and then as fate would have it, managed to have the pleasure of meeting Linda for lunch in October of this year. Having my own struggles with my parents accepting my sexuality, I was just so amazed to hear the grace and love that poured from Linda that day. Even her enthusiasm, to our wedding day, wanting to know more, what a gift that was. We knew we had met a lifelong friend.

Not long after that, we heard that Rob & Linda were asked to be keynote speakers at this year’s Gay Christian Network [GCN] Conference in Chicago.

We had been planning to attend this year for our third conference in a row, and were ecstatic that Rob & Linda would get to share their story with the beautiful community of GCN.

A couple weeks before Christmas, Linda called me and wanted my opinion on an idea for the opening of their keynote speech. She had seen some of my sketches on Facebook – most likely from the Movember batch I was working on – and wondered if I would be up for helping. I did not hesitate, as I would willingly do anything to help this amazing family!

I had a 2 week break coming up from the studio over Christmas, but I had already scheduled a couple projects to work on for that time. I managed to push things around and put aside a solid 4 days to devote to this project.

Working with Linda who wrote the script, their friend [and now mine!] Trenton Waterson who acted as Producer and managed all the details, and his contact Jesse Springer who could do the voiceover work – we managed to pull together this little short film that summarizes their journey with their son Ryan. While I wish I would have had a month or two to work on this and not 4 days, I am so thankful I was able to help out!

Watch and share – this story of true love, hope and redemption is for everyone.

Just Because He Breathed. from theCollaborate on Vimeo.

Caricatures for comedian Lianna Carrera

Since the Christmas break, immediately followed by the GCN Conference in Chicago [stay tuned for postings on that!] things have just been a-movin’ and a-shakin’ – so I am a bit behind on posting about my latest projects!

I was commissioned by friend and funnylady Lianna Carrera to come up with some fun sketches of her for use on her shiny new website. Her site is up and a-runnin’ – check it out here!

She also indicated that she liked the style of [line master] Al Hirschfeld – ME TOO!! But, as an artist, that is a flipping TALL ORDER. I poured over a couple books I have of his illustrations, and tried my best to soak up his genius in hopes it would transfer over in even 2%!

Here are the final illustrations we came up with! ‘Twas a fun project, indeedy!

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Christmas Commissions

This year I was able to do a few commissions for people as Christmas gifts [see previous post]…. this is something I as an artist take super seriously, and just love the opportunity to create these special gifts for people!

The first one was for a friend from the studio. She was flying home to the East coast for Christmas, and wanted to give her mom a “cartoon” portrait of her, her brother and her parents. They were a very fun bunch to draw, and apparently when her mom opened it, she said “Oh my soul!”. That makes me SO happy.

Brush pen and Prismacolor pencil crayons on Moleskin sketchbook.

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The second one was super special. A friend had lost her dad a few months ago to cancer, and her daughter had really fond memories of him carrying her on his shoulders. So for Christmas she wanted Santa to give her daughter a drawing of her and “Papa” together. I ended up doing two versions of the drawing, which I almost never do. The first one I did was a bit more cartoony, and the second one was a bit more realistic. I felt like it was such a huge honor to capture this moment, I just wanted to make sure I got it right. πŸ™‚

Brush pen on Moleskin sketchbook. This is the first version – the second is the one her daughter is staring at in the frame.Β  πŸ™‚

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Showing the process of digital painting – ish.

One of the commissions I had to do for someone as a Christmas gift this year, has been given, so I am free to post about it! πŸ™‚ This one was interesting – well they all are, as every illustration has everyone’s own sentimental and individual expectations and emotions attached to it.

But this one had a lot of elements! A couple had just got engaged…. on a basketball court. The person who commissioned me to illustrate this for them, also wanted me to incorporate Mexico, where they fell in love; dogsledding – a passion of theirs, and their local SPCA – where they volunteer.

It was also to be full colour. I decided to do this digitally, as things are easier to manipulate, especially with all those elements. Here is a step-by-step snapshot of my process…. the bottom is the final one! I am happy to say they are happy with it and that’s all that matters in the end. πŸ™‚

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A Mo’- Success!

This was the first year I decided to jump into the Movember ring and try to raise some money for men’s cancer. Tams and I have men in our life who have been affected by this… and let’s face it, we all know or love someone who has been touched by this. Let’s do what we can to support one another! Some amazing people donated, and we managed to raise almost $400 throughout my month of sketching! It was definitely an exercise in major time-management, but I was so thankful for the opportunity to stretch myself and try some different styles.

My beautiful wife made a contribution, and asked me to draw Santa for Day 30 – so below is a digital painting of what we came up with. We had also just watched the Christmas classic “One Magic Christmas” – so the ending scene had some influence on it as well.

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Below is the month in sketches! Thanks again everyone!

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Day 29 – My Dad

My Dad is probably my most favourite man on the planet. While we may not agree on everything, he is the most generous, loving and funny man I know. I am so thankful he is my Dad! He had the best handlebar stache in the 70s, so I had to sketch it for Movember πŸ™‚

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A whole mess of MO-sketches!

Another catch-up post with a bunch more Movember sketches! Drawing to a close, but what a month it has been!

Day 23 – Commander Hadfield – the first Canadian to walk in space! That’s pretty sweet indeedy. Brush pen on moleskin.

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Day 24 – Brother-in-law request – Smokey and the Bandit! Brush pen on moleskin.

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Day 25 – Had to do Hook! I reffed the Dustin Hoffman version from the live action Disney film. Great movie! Brush pen on moleskin.

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Day 26 – A donor request – Frida Kahlo! She wore her stache proudly, gotta give her props! Brush pen on moleskin.

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Day 27 – A friend who donated asked if I could sketch their Bulldog, Lando, with a moustache. Here’s what I came up with! Digital sketch.

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Day 28 – Jim Henson! What an incredible man. I have and always will love the Muppets! Brush pen and markers on moleskin.

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Just two left to go! I know who they will be, I just need the time to do it…. πŸ™‚

 

Groucho, hockey, Disney & Mr. Potato Head.

Never know what cast of characters will be thrown together for the latest batch of Movember sketches!

Donate here! http://ca.movember.com/mospace/8179729

Day 19 – Canadian hockey legend Lanny McDonald. Digital sketch.

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Day 20 – Groucho Marx. Stache & comedy legend, obviously. Digital sketch.

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Day 21 – Walt Disney, the original Imagineer. Digital sketch. I gotta practice my painting of realistic people. Man, that’s the hardest. But this was great practice.
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Day 22 – Mr Potato Head! Plastic stache and all. Brush pen on moleskin. I was drawing it while we were speeding down the highway [through construction], so the lines are wibbly!

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Movember sketch-up catch-up!

Alrighty, somehow I am managing to keep consistently one day behind… but given my schedule, that’s actually not bad!! Here we gooooooo!

Another reminder to pleeeeeze donate to this great cause – 11 DAYS TO GO!!

http://ca.movember.com/mospace/8179729

Day 14 – Clark Gable in “Gone with the Wind”. Done in pencil.

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Day 15 – Request from a donor who is also a fellow Movember-Bro – he asked to be drawn wearing a smoking jacket, and drinking scotch. I live to abide. πŸ™‚ Drawn with Prismacolour pencil crayons.

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Day 16 – Another donor request – Ron Burgundy from “Anchorman”. Claaaaaaaasic. Brush pen and pencil crayon.

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Day 17 – Couldn’t resist drawing another Muppet! Swedish Chef drawn in Copic markers.

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Day 18 – Dali has got to have the most recognizable art – and ‘stache! Done with brush pen and Prismacolour markers.

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It’s actually been really fun for me to push myself to try different styles in different mediums. They seem to look better in my head than the final product, but the life of an artist is an ever-evolving one. I must give myself grace and encouragement to keep going, one drawing at a time!

Okay let’s keep ‘er going and finish this marathon of drawings!! Hmm. Drawing for a cause. Wish I could do this more often.

One more step along this road :)

This past weekend I was asked to participate in a panel discussion at the Canadian Youth Workers Convention – an annual conference for youth workers both in the church, and outside the church. But primarily, this is mostly attended by youth pastors, and those who work with youth at church. This year it was held in downtown Vancouver.

Now, let me preface this with saying that after many years of turmoil in my soul, and finally receiving the gift of complete peace regarding my sexuality and faith fitting together — and truly coming “out” in 2010 — I did feel a sense of responsibility. I have said this before, but I know I fall into a minority of a minority. While we hear a lot more from the gay community these days… we don’t hear too much from the gay CHRISTIAN community. Let’s face it, in most people’s eyes, those two communities are at odds.

I have felt strongly within, that God has asked me to 1 – be authentic, and 2 – give grace, grace and more grace. And if that means telling my story when asked, then do it. If that means just living my life and not being ashamed to bring up “my wife” to other Christians, then do it. Or conversely, if it means bringing up “my faith” to my gay friends, then do that as well. In the last few months, God has opened some doors for me to speak a bit more about my experience growing up in the church, and struggling with my sexuality.

And sometimes, that’s pretty stinking scary. If I am being totally honest – the scariest crowd for me to speak to is Christians. Sadly in my experience – they have been the most hurtful. But I have so much compassion for that – because I know where it is coming from. That’s where I used to be. What a gift that is, actually. I can not judge, because I was once there. And God has grace, patience and forgiveness for every step along this journey – so how can I not also extend the same? That is literally the least I can do.

I am so thankful for Iona Snair and Carmen Rempel who extended the invitation for me to lend my voice to a panel talking about marginalized youth. I was representing the struggles our LGBT youth can have, especially growing up in the church. I knew, looking out into that crowd, that most likely they would fall into the Conservative category. That perhaps the issue of LGBT in the church was still quite black and white to them. That’s why we made the decision that I wouldn’t reveal my own sexuality until the end of the panel. We didn’t want them to discredit everything I had to say before they could hear it. I know many people who wouldn’t listen after the word “gay” is hanging in the air. After all, it’s not about me – it’s about loving the struggling youth in our churches better.

I stood up there and realized that in minutes I would come out to this entire room of strangers. After so many years of hiding in these exact settings, this was both a very terrifying and liberating feeling. But I knew God would walk me through this, as He always has this whole time.

Afterwards, I had quite a few people come up to me, that had some great feedback. They had youth in their youth group that had just come out, and they wanted to know what NOT to say, or how to support them better. That is awesome. You know, even if we don’t all agree on this, I think we can agree that we all need to love each other better.

I did have one person afterwards, and what she did say, well it hurt. She asked me if I was still gay today, and how I got to that conclusion. She said that she felt very strongly that God has told her there is no grey on this issue – that God is against it. And we should not be “preaching” to support it. She was very nice about it, I could tell she was very sincere, but she told me that she needed to caution me. She said that if I keep speaking, I will be building a gay army, and one day God will judge me harshly for that.

Now, while I had maybe 5 or 6 very positive people giving me feedback, of course this was the one that stuck in my heart. I spent so many years asking God about this, is this wrong, I want to do the right thing. And the thought of me building an army basically against God… there’s is nothing much more terrifying than that.

But after talking with close friends, my wife, and praying about this, I realized something. None of us know for sure if what we are doing is right. And we can all feel strongly that God is telling us something. My only responsibility in this is 1 – love others better and 2 – speak the truth I feel in my soul. And so I cannot fault this girl for doing that either.

I just don’t feel that God will judge me harshly for my life today. He sees my heart, and He knows my intentions. There is a tension and a struggle in putting myself out there, and putting a face to the gay Christian community. I know I may be putting myself in the cross-hairs. But someone needs to be a face for it, if even so the church doesn’t say “we don’t agree with that” but “Oh, that’s the girl we don’t agree with – let’s talk to her.”

I hope I can help build an army. An army of people who want to love better. Who want to use their talents for others and not just for themselves. Who extend grace, compassion and patience to those who don’t deserve it. Who are not made up of gay or straight, but just PEOPLE. We are all in this together, you guys.

Let’s keep the conversation going – but above all – at the end of the day, let’s make sure we are loving better.

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